Should I Start a Law Practice? (Redux)—Retrospective, Dec. 31, 2014

December 31, 2014
The Author with an Author

Sometimes real lawyers agree to slum it with the likes of me.

The practice of law is about relationships“.
-Me (And Brian Tannebaum, and probably plenty of other people much smarter than I am).

About two and a half years ago, Jordan wrote a post called “Should I Start a Law Practice?” It remains one of our most-viewed articles on this blog. Because it’s the end of the year,  rather than being creative and thinking of a new and exciting topic, I decided, now concluding my fourth year of practice, and having started as a true solo fresh out of law school, to revisit the topic Jordan discussed back in 2012. I’d intended to write this follow-up to his post way back then, but simply never got around to it.

My perspective is different that Jordan’s—partly because I graduated in 2010, when the market had tanked—and partly because I did not work at a firm before I hung my shingle.

Here’s my point: You should start a practice if you want to, and if you understand that the practice of law is all about relationships—with your colleagues, with your mentors, and with your clients.

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In case it’s not perfectly clear…

July 1, 2014
GetAWarrantiPhone

Get a Warrant — for iPhone

I made this on my iPhone yesterday, and it currently serves as my lock screen.

Feel free to download and use it appropriately.

Tell your friends and share as much as you’d like. Get the word out there that police may not search your phone without your consent or a warrant, thanks to Riley v. California.

(Wikipedia here, SCOTUS opinion here, OYEZ project link here).

While you’re at it, turn off location services.

Edit: I had a colleague point out to me that the text is obscured by the unlock dots on some Android phones. An Android version is below the fold.

2nd Edit: Ken at Popehat requested a special custom version, which is also below the fold. Use at your own risk.
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Making People Stupider: Jezebel Edition

June 20, 2014
About That Time Jezebel Made People Stupider

About That Time Jezebel Made People Stupider

Today in Making People Stupider, I present to you the Jezebel article by Erin Gloria Ryan titled “About That Time Hilary Clinton Smeared a Tween Rape Victim“.

Read it. Please. Yes, including the comments section.*

Here’s are two highlights :

On the other hand, how massively fucked is it that our legal system expects and encourages attorneys to treat rape victims like this? And that even Hillary Clinton didn’t have the balls to set her career goals aside for a moment and stand up to what she must have known was bullshit, even in the midst of a time in her career she claims was devoted to serving children and families?

***

Hillary Clinton didn’t ‘laugh at a rape victim’ as the coverage errantly insists, but she definitely was the sort of lawyer who would attack the credibility of a rape victim in pursuit of legal victory.

You’re right, Erin. It couldn’t possibly be that Hillary was doing her job as a criminal defense lawyer and had an ethical obligation to defend her client however she could—it was that she had “career goals”. She should have “had the balls” to roll over and sell her client up the river, in derogation of her ethical duties to her client, because she’s the sort of lawyer who DARES to attack the credibility of a complaining witness.

Oh, and “the children”.

I was going to write a much longer, angrier, piece about the history of what criminal defense lawyers do, our ethics, our duties to our clients, etc., but it would be wasted breath keystrokes.

I’ll just say this: criminal defense lawyers have an ethical obligation to defend their clients. There is no “I understand, but…”. It simply is.

Erin Gloria Ryan, shame on you for making people stupider today .

*I am ashamed to say I broke Rule 1 of the Internet and argued in the comments.


The Plea

December 3, 2013

It is Tuesday at 9.30am and I am in the booth.

The booth is a tiny box where I have the honor of talking to my client through an inch of bullet-proof glass. I say “talking”, though it’s really more like yelling, since it’s pretty hard to hear through that glass.

“Booth” is a misnomer too. “Booth” reminds me of the precursor to something fun. You buy tickets to a movie or carnival rides at a booth. No such fun was happening today.

Really, the booth is purgatory, a limbo my clients sit in after they’ve made their way from the prison and to the courthouse basement’s holding cells, but before they enter the courtroom where they await final judgment.

This particular morning, I am wearing a navy flannel Brooks Brothers No. 1 sack suit, a white shirt I freshly pressed at 5.30 that morning, and a somber tie that reflected my mood.

In gross juxtaposition, my client is in an orange prison jumpsuit and has a thermal on underneath to keep warm. I guess this hell follows Dante’s rules.

My client is a good man who’d recently made a series of terrible decisions, all of which led to where he is today. Despite his cock-ups, he was truthful and admitted his mistakes not only to his family, but to members of his community.

Then the police became involved.

And he got arrested.

And his mistakes became a “case.”

And that’s how we ended up on opposite sides of the same sheet of glass on Tuesday at 9.32am. Read the rest of this entry »


A Brave New World In The Cloud

October 9, 2013

This morning I woke up and had a LinkedIn request. LinkedIn is stupid, but I have it for some reason. I’ve never figured out what to do with it, nor received any benefit from it, but that’s beside the point. After I accepted the request, it then suggested “people I may know.”

I start browsing through the list, and something startled me. It was suggesting current clients of mine, prospective clients, and opposing counsel. Many of whom I’ve never met in person, and have only emailed a few times. We’re not Facebook friends, we’re not on Google Circles, and we don’t follow each other on Twitter. No, these are people I have simply emailed privately back and forth with. Other than our private emails, there is no trace that I had ever encountered many of these suggested contacts. Several were not even in my geographic area, we had no shared connections, and my only connection to them is either being a client of mine or counsel in another case. Our only traceable connections were emails back and forth.

To put it mildly, the discovery was unsettling. How the hell does LinkedIn know who I’m emailing with? Isn’t that information private?

Then I got to thinking….

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Unlike George Zimmerman, Most Criminal Defendants Cannot Afford A Fair Trial

July 15, 2013

Last week many of you saw the criminal justice system at its best. George Zimmerman had top notch attorneys and expert witnesses representing him. The trial lasted from June 24 through July 12, which is a lot longer trial than most criminal trials last.

Brian Tannebaum, Eric Mayer, Elie Mystal, Gideon, Popehat, and Scott Greenfield wrote the best pieces I’ve read about the verdict, so I am going to refrain from commentary. Everything that needs to be said has been said by bloggers better qualified than myself to express their opinions.

I think there is an aspect still worth discussing – George Zimmerman was able to afford a top notch defense. Those who can afford a top notch defense fare far better at trial than those who cannot. That is how our justice system works, which I don’t think most Americans realize. The more money you have for your defense, the stronger it is going to be. Someone has to pay those expert witnesses, court reporters, and private investigators.

And here someone paid a significant amount of money to ensure Zimmerman had a full and fair trial.

As a result, it seems like every person in America now thinks that every criminal defendant gets weeks of trial, expert testimony, and a full and fair opportunity to have their case tried fully and fairly. Most of you have never heard of a “meet and greet” plea, where the public defender meets their client for the first time when striking a plea.

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Stop and Frisk in Philadelphia is Bullshit.

March 20, 2013

Search and SeizureI was listening to my local NPR outlet this morning when a particular news story piqued my interest — the ACLU and Kairys Rudovsky Messing & Feinberg had just filed their Third Report to the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania regarding the monitoring of stop and frisk practices. I said to myself: “I need to get a copy of this report right away.”

Which I did. And I read it. And I got furious.
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